The National Football League announced last week that its halftime show for Super Bowl LIV will feature two iconic Latina artists: Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. The choice should be universally praised, not only for its potential entertainment value, but also as a full embrace of diversity in an era that desperately needs it.
The Big Game will be played in Miami, arguably the Hispanic cultural capital of America, so it was natural that the league might seek talent representative of that market. However, to select not one but two Latin acts—and both women—stands as a watershed moment that should be celebrated.
The concept of diversity used to be viewed through the prism of corporate social responsibility or a proverbial box to check. More and more, companies have realized this is not only the right thing to do, but also a wise approach with a significant return on investment. The U.S. Hispanic market currently stands at 59 million people, or 18% of the total population. If it were a country, it would be the world’s second largest Spanish-speaking population (behind only Mexico). Furthermore, it’s a misnomer to assume these are all lower socioeconomic consumers, as Hispanic buying power currently tops $1.7 trillion.
The NFL has grown to become the most popular sport in America, with many weeks delivering 19 of the 20 top-rated programs, fueling its growing revenue. In recent years, the league has made huge strides in engaging the Latin community, converting futbol fans into football fans. These efforts have proved fruitful, as ratings are growing quickly on Spanish-language games aired on Fox Deportes, engagement online via the league’s site NFL.com/Español has grown exponentially and attendance is ticking upward in key cities with diverse demographic makeups like Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and New York.
Specifically, the halftime show carries the following three powerful takeaways that all brand marketers should heed.
The NFL engaged Roc Nation earlier this year to serve as its entertainment partner. Founded by Jay-Z, Roc is an incredibly diverse organization representing talent from the African-American, Hispanic and LGBTQ communities. It also spans a wide array of sectors such as sports, music, film and comedy. This was an early signal that America’s largest sports league was making a big bet on diversity.
Commit rather than hedge
Another key insight is that brands should take a strategic direction and then exemplify the courage of its convictions. Rather than selecting one Latin talent for the halftime show and then cautiously pairing that artist with a traditional Anglo singer, the NFL boldly stuck to its laurels and selected two Latinas. This demonstrates a confidence that consumers notice and appreciate.
Affinity not ethnicity
The Hispanic culture has permeated virtually every facet of American life. It’s no longer about catering to the Latino consumer, but rather giving the vast general market what it has clearly grown to appreciate: Latin culture. Past clichés remain true (there is more salsa sold in this country than ketchup), but new indicators abound, with three of the top 10 most streamed artists on Spotify currently coming from Latin descent. For that reason, embracing this Latin culture with a brand’s overall work can help persuade its entire universe of potential customers.
In short, this halftime show selection was not only a good bet, but also a bold one. In polarizing times, the Super Bowl is one of the few moments that has wide appeal and brings us together as a country. Having Jennifer Lopez and Shakira performing will not only be tremendously entertaining but will also place diversity front-and-center during the zenith of commercialism in the world’s largest economy. And that is certainly something to celebrar.